Volume 97, Issue 2
Thursday, May 29, 2003

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MOVIE REVIEW: Bruce Almighty

Even God can't save Bruce Almighty

Bruce Almighty
Starring: Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Steven Carell
Directed by: Tom Shadyac

By Anthony Turow
Gazette Staff

Bruce Almighty is a high-concept movie, offering nothing remotely new other than its novel premise of an "everyman" playing God.

Said "everyman" is Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey), an ambitious television lifestyles reporter who invites the wrath of God after being turned down for a promotion. God (Morgan Freeman) subsequently offers Bruce the chance to take the helm and "play God."

The main problem with Bruce Almighty is its rich premise is never originally mined for its true comic potential. Bruce takes advantage of the powers bestowed unto him by blowing up a woman's skirt, parting a bowl of tomato soup and walking on water. Laughing yet?

A game cast is unfortunately wasted. Jennifer Aniston is given little chance to do anything more than appear fetching in the thankless role of Bruce's girlfriend, Grace. Steven Carell, consistently hilarious as an anchor on The Daily Show, is frustratingly reduced to the role of the requisite antagonist. And Morgan Freeman better have received a large paycheck.

Fault can mainly be attributed to the screenplay by Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe and Steve Oedekerk. They may have assumed that with a manic performer like Carrey playing Bruce they could slack off, in the hopes that Carrey's improvisational genius would elevate the material.

Carrey's performance is another sticking point because he seems to be on auto-pilot. One gets the impression that after trying his hand at dramatic parts in the commercial failures Man on the Moon and The Majestic, Carrey was a little too confident in his comedic skills. It results in a performance that has him merely going through the motions.

Such confidence results in a Carrey performance that's oddly detached, brimming with so much bravado and ego making it hard for the audience to have a personal connection with him.

Bruce Almighty ultimately results in a summer comedy with very few laughs, and even God can't fix that.

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2002 THE GAZETTE